Sunday, June 8, 2008

Is an Ivy League Degree Worth the Money?

Two days before the voter registration deadline, and another laptop goes missing. Only this time, it was not stolen by thieves or lost by the Election Commission. This time it was the Board of Education loaded up with the social security data and personal information of local school teachers.

The Tennesseean openly discusses the salary of Metro teachers in the July 6 edition of The Tennesseean. The reporter makes it sound like she has uncovered some profound secret: Teachers are underpaid. No shit?

The papers seem to gloss over the magnitude if the situation of teacher pay and mobility within Metro Nashville. I wasted a ton of money at Vanderbilt and almost as much in the Ivy League. By investing in a useless program and a worthless degree, I am the first to admit I have made some bad choices, but now I am asking for some advice. I CAN'T FIND A JOB! I can't afford to complete the application, or find transportation to get to an interview. I am beyond broke. I am so far in debt that I don't even bother to open my mail since it consists only negative balances, bank statements, and letters from collection agencies and thed Department of Education. When I found out that someone recently used my social security number to open an account in Jersey City, I was thrilled at the prospect that my credit score might actually go up!

There are a plethora of young, talented individuals like myself who would be more than willing to work for MNPS or any other company if we could simply access the resources necessary to complete the application. We all know that teacher salary is ridiculous to begin with, so no kudos to the reporter at the Tennessean for pointing out the obvious.

Currently, I work part-time as an educator with a "Masters + 30" degree. I earn $10.46/hour before taxes and without benefits. That doesn't go far. Unfortunately, I simply cannot afford the fees associated with alternative certification.

I never dreamed that I would have to apply for a social services grant simply to find a job. I never thought about fees for fingerprinting, TB tests, official transcripts, examination fees, processing fees necessary to apply a position that really only requires a GED.

The bottom line is this: regardless of good intentions or misguided mentoring, I am a financial burden to you all. I pay taxes out of your taxes. I am absolutely convinced that there must be a better way to live than relying upon government subsidies to keep a roof over my head and Ramen noodles in my tummy.

I am not too proud to beg for a job or take some free advice if it will help me to get from here to there. I need someone, anyone, willing to give me a chance to prove myself.

Help become the person I was meant to be. Try to the see the person I could become. I have so much to contribute, but few resources get there. I believe I deserve more out of life than this, and I think that if you knew me, you would think so too.

This is the reality I live in. This is poverty. This is why I'm hoping that someone out there knows someone or some way that I can contribute more to society than what I am taking.

Relying upon the "welfare" of others is a terrible way to live especially when you have something to give back. I live so far beneath the poverty line, that I am willing to work for the necessities in life that I simply can not afford such as toothpaste and internet access.

If anyone knows of some funds to help with the application fees associated simply to access community programs, grant based training programs, transportation, or internet access for career resources, I will continue to be a leach on society.

I need someone to invest in ME!

I have sent similar letters to every agency and non-profit that I have ever "worked" for. Surely the AT&T cable bill could have included a measure to assist the disabled and economically challenged such as free online internet access to internet and the online interactive PDF application-- also the only acceptable format by HR and Applicant Services for the State of Tennessee.

Surely one of these big companies coming to Tennessee can help by hiring one over educated, underemployed, and dedicated employee. All I need is a chance.

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Elyssa D. Durant, Ed.M.